The Meanings and Blessings of Thanksgiving:
Helpful Exercises of Gratitude
Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D., C.Psych
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
On the Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada, my thoughts naturally turned to its meanings and blessings. This piece is based on what I jotted down at our church’s Thanksgiving Service. Some of the ideas presented here were inspired by the sermon.

Thanksgiving lifts up our spirits and fills our hearts with joy as we journey through twisted roads and crocked paths. Thanksgiving needs to be a perpetual celebration of God’s gift of life and all his goodness towards us. Here are some helpful exercises of gratitude that would keep us humble and humane.

Looking back:
• Remember all those who have been good to us and express our gratitude to them.
• Remember our parents, family and loved ones and show them kindness.
• Remember all the happy days and not the sad ones.
• Remember the triumphs not the trials.
• Remember the laughters not the tears.
• Remember the lessons not the pain.
• Remember all the friends that have enriched our lives.
• Remember all those who have made a difference in our lives.
• Remember all the unknown heroes who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

Looking at the present:
• Give thanks for being alive.
• Be thankful for all the things we have taken for granted.
• Feel good that we can work and love freely.
• Feel so fortunate to be able to live in security and peace.
• Feel so blessed that we have friends who care.
• Whenever we drink or eat, remember the source with gratitude.
• Count our gains not our losses.
• Count our friends not our foes.
• Count our blessings not our crosses.
• Count our freedoms not our restrictions.
• Count our successes not our failures.
• Count our victories not defeats.
• Count it a joy to suffer for righteousness’ sake.
• Count it a privilege so suffer for Christ.
• Count what we have not what we miss.
• Count what is right not what is wrong.
• Count our strengths not our weaknesses.
• Count other people’s good deeds not bad deeds
• Embrace all of life with a thankful and open heart.
• Enjoy the opportunities for serving others.
• Thank God for the opportunities of sharing His love and joy.
• Show random kindness in our daily encounters.
• Show appreciation and validation on a daily basis.

Looking forward:
• Strive towards our life goals with joy.
• Anticipate our blessed hope.
• Believe that tomorrow can be a better day.
• Build a better future by building on wisdoms from the past.
• Build a bright future by doing the right thing right now.
• Make sure that all my decisions are aligned with my life purpose.
• Appreciate every little thing which will grow in significance.
• Be prepared to meet our Maker and give an account of our lives.
• Look for the silver lining behind every dark cloud.
• Believe that the future can be better if we work and pray.
• Look forward to possess the Promised Land.
• Look into the future with the lens of faith.

Looking upward:
• Thank God for saving us from our self-destructive tendencies and our sins
• Thank God for second chances and for redeeming us from shame and guilt.
• Thank God for all his provision and abundant supply.
• Thank God for his unfailing guidance and protection.
• Thank God for grace and strength through troubled times.
• Thank God for giving us victory over all our enemies.
• Thank God that nothing is impossible with him.
• Thank God that he is always there for us.
• Thank God for lifting us from a pit and placing us on a higher ground.
• Thank God for turning my tears into joy.
• Thank God for giving me a moral compass to live by.
• Thank God for giving me a reason for living.
• Thank God for making us better people